Started in 2022 by COU COU curator Clare Carswell and artist Peta Lloyd, the BIDDY project represents the work of older women artists who are trained in visual or performance art and who have an ongoing art practice. We welcome artists who may be returning to practice after a break, or who have come to it later in life.
Our first BIDDY event was a day long performance art programme that we staged for FaB Fringe Arts Bath in May 2022. The festival put out a call for the programme and it had applications from all over the world. We showed the work of ten artists on the day, mainly from the UK with one from Germany.
The large application we had from all over the world told us of the demand for exhibition opportunities as well as networking and support for older women artists. We decided to trial a professional development support group in Oxfordshire, where we both live.
BIDDY BOOST is a supportive research and production group that meets monthly for discussion, production and to meet guest artists. We welcome women artists over fifty, who are living or working in Oxfordshire. We find artists by putting out a call in the local arts listings and on social media. We meet in art or community spaces in Oxford city or out in the county to enable access for all.
The meetings include informal sharing of our works in progress, with group feedback and supportive discussions to develop our ideas. Conversations may identify positive and negative aspects of re-starting and maintaining art practice later in life and we decide on actions we can take in order to be more productive. We invite guest artists to share their work with us and to lead drawing and other activities. Growing trust, friendship and our support networks is an important part of the time we spend together so we ask that artists attend as many monthly sessions as they can do.
We have no funding so we do ask attendees to pay a small fee for the day to cover room hire, materials and modest fees and travel costs for invited guest speakers. Most of the artists are retired and on pensions so we are mindful of keeping costs down so that we are not prohibiting participation due to lack of finance.
As the group grows in confidence and more work is being made we will make funding applications to organise exhibitions and other events to share our work with audiences in Oxford and beyond in 2023.